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Fence Viewers


Contact
Jennifer Rand
Town Administrator
Phone 508-696-0102
Fax 508-696-0103

Staff:
Joan Ames Fence Viewer
Richard Hammond Fence Viewer

Purpose:
The Fence Viewer advises lot owners prior to constructing a fence. The height of the fence can be no higher than six feet except near intersections. Lot owners at intersections cannot erect a fence nor shrubbery closer than five feet to allow good visibility. A fence or shrub near there must be no higher than three feet. Spite fences erected to annoy neighbors are illegal. The Fence Viewer has the power to order such fences changed to be inoffensive. If hostilities escalate, the building inspector is asked to become involved. His word is final! The Commonwealth of Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 49 describe in detail the obligations of lot owners.

History of the Fence Viewers:
In Massachusetts, this position was first established in 1693 by a statute which was amended in 1785 and again in 1836. Early Fence Viewers, armed with wall measurements, were able to arbitrate and/or prosecute such crimes by adjoining farmers. Trespassing by livestock was illegal. Boundaries and fences had to be maintained. If a farmer neglected his fence, his neighbor could do the repairs and charge his nonperforming neighbor twice the cost. If the negligent neighbor didn't come up with the money, he had to pay 12% interest until payment was made.

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